|Keep Your Eye on the Ball!|
|Written by Jay Beskin, BT Contributor|
That Times Square moment shows us goodness and sincerity, not the least glimmer of selfishness
Why are elections held right before Thanksgiving and the holiday season?
That question always seemed on point. Wouldn’t it make more sense to hold elections, say, in June? The school year would be finishing, the weather would be nice, not too hot yet, but pleasant enough. Or perhaps in September as the school year begins? Then the elected officials could go straight to work alongside the post-summer vacation population, with the back-to-school crowd at all levels of education scrutinizing the performance of the new team in office.
Well, this year that question has been well and truly answered for all time. The aftermath has left everyone irritable and raw. Actually, the Trump backers may be happy among themselves, but as for the interactions between parallel partisans in the family or in the workplace, there is only white rage.
The Clinton backers have a list of grievances -- against Comey, fake news, the alt-right (whatever the heck that is), the Electoral College, even Vladimir Putin. They’re predicting a dire future for our country. On the other side, the winners seem to be just as sore -- blaming media bias, fake fact-checkers, voter fraud, rigged elections, and whatnot.
In short, it is fair to say they are all going nuts. As a Bernie Sanders supporter, I am a member of the only group in this country that has a legitimate complaint at the end of this election.
The Democratic Party rigged the primaries and the debates, including an absurd race where all the superdelegates had been stolen from Sanders in advance. The only consequence of this chicanery being revealed was that our neighbor, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had to resign as head of the Democratic National Committee -- only to be promptly snapped up by the campaign she had improperly favored.
The added irony here is that Sanders was the only candidate who was certain to beat Trump. Clinton could have won with a better campaign, but it was a 50-50 affair from Day One, despite the impression fostered by the media. Sanders would have crushed Trump, because all those dispossessed voters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan would have gone to Bernie instead of Donald. But I am not griping, just putting some fairly obvious observations on the record.
Be that as it may, everyone has gone bonkers. Not only is the lion not lying down with the lamb, but both the lion and the lamb are at each other’s throats. The possibility of bipartisan dialogue, the search for common ground, the quest for shared values seems remote beyond imagination. We are hopelessly riven, rent, shattered, tattered, and split (coincidentally the name of my law firm.)
Enter the holiday season. This is a magical time of year, or perhaps a time that somehow stands outside the year. This year, in particular, the overlap between Chanukah and Christmas on the calendar merged the separate streams of the season into one flowing river of peace (with apologies to members of other religions who do not choose to participate). Suddenly our minds were on subjects other than who will be the next national security adviser and if this or that cabinet appointee will be tripped up in confirmation hearings of paying a nanny under the table.
What can we buy for the boss? And should the office party be held in the conference room or in a local eatery? Is it better to give a gift with a card, or to give a gift card? Should we tell the new girl in Accounting how nice her outfit is? Should we tell her early in the party or toward the end?
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Or maybe that is old Uncle Abe, who stopped shaving after Aunt Zelda passed away. Humanity can return. It is possible to move beyond the political to the polite, from the negotiating table to the dinner table (careful not to step on the nanny underneath), from the TOW Missile to the mistletoe. Trump is the greatest thing to ever happen to our country; Trump is the worst thing to ever happen to our country; who cares? Please pass the gravy.
Some of the decisions politicians make can affect our lives. That is why I served in public office myself, trying to do the right thing to make life better for my neighbors. Yet at the end of the day, lying on our deathbeds, looking back on the meaning and purpose of our lives, I doubt the scene that will dominate our memories will be a Democrat or a Republican one. The tapestry of our lives will be woven from the people whose lives we touched and the people who touched our lives.
And so my New Year’s Resolution, although it applies only to New Year’s itself, and is sure to be forgotten before very long afterward, is to resolutely banish all political thought from my brain during the holidays. I shall not dwell on the past, and I shall not bemoan the present, and I shall not fret over the future. All I want to think about are my family and friends, my colleagues, my neighbors. This is people time. And people time is heart and soul time.
Maybe I’m a sentimental sap, but I love to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. The ceremony is not what it used to be, moving forward into the future without Guy Lombardo and Dick Clark. And it is an odd sort of ritual, rolling out a new globe as if to say there will be a whole new world this year. There’s a captivating visual quality that makes one feel that something magnificent is taking place and it is shared by all humankind.
But in truth, the glittering scene in Times Square has always been much less about the funny ball and the corny countdown. The sea of humanity converging on the Square suddenly loses the quality of an impersonal mob.
Each person looks up to watch the descent of the ball, and the camera catches the pathos in his or her eyes, the unique longing and yearning of that individual soul to reach extraordinary heights. No matter how much you try to “keep your eye on the ball,” you find yourself drawn to the people. Every one of them exudes goodness and sincerity in that moment, not the least glimmer of selfishness.
If we can hold that resolution, we can make America great again...or words to that effect.
Volume 14, Issue 11, January 2017
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